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"Book Recommendations? ACW, AWI, Age of Sail" Topic

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PurpleBrickWall21 May 2021 1:44 a.m. PST

Hi all,
I've been reading David Chandler's "The Campaigns of Napoleon", and I've been really enjoying the style and scope of the book.

I'd like to learn more about the American War of Independence, American Civil War and Napoleonic Naval history.
Do you have any book recommendations on these periods that are a similar style and length to Chandler? I don't need anything too academic but I'd like to avoid the airport paperback rubbish.

Thanks in advance.

John Armatys21 May 2021 3:26 a.m. PST

Rodger N.A.M., The Command of The Ocean, Allen Lane, 2004 – covers the Royal Navy 1649 to 1815.

Personal logo Stosstruppen Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 4:19 a.m. PST

Atkinson's AWI trilogy starts with The British are Coming. It is the only book of the trilogy out thus far but I would highly recommend it. For the ACW Battle Cry of Freedom is probably the best single volume treatment. The Shelby Foote Trilogy The Civil War, A Narrative, is an excellent read as well. Can't miss with either one.

Major Mike21 May 2021 5:18 a.m. PST

The American Iliad by Charles P. Roland is a nice book to start with about the Civil War to get a good overview of the ACW.

Stew art Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 5:35 a.m. PST

Bruce Catton trilogy of the ACW is great.

PurpleBrickWall21 May 2021 6:36 a.m. PST

Thanks for the suggestions, I'm gonna look up all of these

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 6:57 a.m. PST

I can't say that I have read any of Chandler's work. For the curious, I think "1776" is worth a read.


T Corret Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 7:48 a.m. PST

For the AWI battle of the Cowpens, try "A Devil of a Whipping."

Brechtel19821 May 2021 8:59 a.m. PST

For the Napoleonic Wars I have found A Military History and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars by Vincent J Esposito and John R Elting superior to Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon.

I also highly recommend John Elting's Swords Around a Throne which is the best organizational history of the Grande Armee in English.

James McPherson's one-volume history of the Civil War, The Battle Cry of Freedom, is excellent as is anything by Bruce Catton, especially his trilogy on the Army of the Potomac-Mr Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. Both are superior to Shelby Foote's three-volume work. Foote was a novelist, not a historian.

For the American Revolution, The American Heritage Book of The Revolution is the place to begin any study of the War of the Revolution. It is excellent, as is their volume on the Civil War.

Command of the Ocean is excellent, but there are myriad excellent volumes on the naval war of the period, including the War of 1812. CS Forester's The Age of Fighting Sail is one to get and read and probably the place to start. You can continue from there.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 4:20 p.m. PST

For a newbie to ACW. I would recommend Bruce Catton's "The Civil War" and T Harry Williams' "Lincoln and His Generals". These were my text books when I took the Civil War in college.

I would follow it up with Catton's Civil War trilogy "The Coming Fury", "Never Call Retreat" and "Terrible Swift Sword."

I also recommend Catton's Army of the Potomac trilogy; "Mr. Lincoln's Army", "Glory Road" and A "Stillness At Appomattox."

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 4:31 p.m. PST

For a newbie to the AWI I would suggest:

"The Road to Yorktown" by John Selby.

"Redcoats and Rebels" by Christopher Hibbert

"Almost A Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence" by John Ferling

"The Winter Soldiers" by Richard M Ketchum

HMS Exeter Supporting Member of TMP21 May 2021 4:56 p.m. PST

For the ACW, Johnson's 4 volume Battles and Leaders of the Civil War isn't a bad starting point. It's dated, but pretty comprehensive. It's prohibitively expensive complete and new off Amazon, but you can get each volume used separately for about $6 USD shipped from the affiliate sellers.

Read the descriptions carefully. The latest printing was a bit flimsy and broken backs are not uncommon.

If you have a 2nd hand book seller locally, they might well have some of these. Bazillions were printed.

I second American Iliad.

Shelby Foote's 3 volumes on the ACW are controversial but offer an illuminating "flavor" take on the conflict, esp. providing a fairly romanticized take on the suth'en point of view.

The Ken Burns 11 hour PBS documentary is also worth a look.

JAFD2622 May 2021 7:22 p.m. PST

If you can find any of Fletcher Pratt's works in the used book sales, grab them. Dated, 'popular history', but well worth reading. Unfortunately out of print and in 'copyright limbo'.

Theodore Roosevelt's 'The Naval War of 1812' is at, though reprint editions may have more readable maps. The best work on that conflict.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP25 May 2021 8:20 p.m. PST

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 3:42 p.m. PST

Anecdotes, poetry, and incidents of the war: North and South. 1860-1865

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Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP03 Oct 2021 6:25 p.m. PST

I have to endorse Catton as well, especially the trilogy mentioned. As a boy, Catton spent time with a number of Union veterans, heard their stories and felt their vibe. No one else has ever captured this in quite the same way.

Only Stephen Sears and McPherson come close. But Catton's real life connection to the men who were there and his writing talents are unique.

Brechtel19804 Oct 2021 3:16 a.m. PST

Completely agree on Bruce Catton. Not only did he provide insight into the soldiers' idea of what they had undergone, he backed it up with solid research and his accounts of the war are still some of the best, if not the best, that has been published.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Oct 2021 3:44 p.m. PST

Napoleon's British visitors and captives, 1801-1815;

Free to read
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